Great Yarmouth roller skating success fears as rink closes

image copyrightSean Tubby
image captionDulcie Read, who won the 2019 British Junior Championships, is a member of the club based at Retroskate

The closure of a roller skating rink in a town with a history of producing champions could create a hurdle for future success, it is feared.

Retroskate in Great Yarmouth, which shuts on Sunday, is believed to be the only rink in the country where artistic skaters can train and perform.

The club based there has 20 current champions and said it has struggled to find an alternative venue.

It will lose its home while a new leisure centre is built.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council said there will be "unavoidable disruption for user groups" while the Marina Centre, which Retroskate is part of, is demolished to make way for a new water and leisure complex which is due to open in summer 2021.

The council said it had worked "closely" with clubs to try to find alternative venues and the new centre will have a sports hall which can be used for roller skating.

image copyrightJocelyn Taylor
image captionJocelyn Taylor, pictured in the 1950s, taught "loads and loads" of champions in Great Yarmouth

Retroskate Artistic Club - believed to be the UK's most successful - said it had "searched tirelessly" for a replacement venue.

Club secretary Gaynor Read said: "There's nothing out there, and we've had no help.

"The problem with sports halls is they are too busy - we have to fight for a slot like any other club, there is no seating and some mistakenly think skates will damage the floor."

image copyrightGoogle
image captionRetroskate will be lost when the Marina Centre is demolished next year
image copyrightGreat Yarmouth Borough Council
image captionThe Marina Centre is being replaced with a new water and leisure complex

Before Retroskate opened in 2009, Great Yarmouth had been without a rink for about 20 years after the closure of the Winter Gardens.

In the past five years alone, Retroskate has produced more than 50 champions, including Mrs Read's daughter - the current British Junior Champion, 18-year-old Dulcie Read.

Former professional skating champion and trainer Jocelyn Taylor, 92, described the loss of the facility as a "terrible tragedy".

Retroskate closes to the public on Sunday while the Marina Centre closes its doors on Thursday.

The council said the rink will be kept open to enable the club to train for and host the roller skating gala there on 9-10 November.

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